Social Network Slave Syndicate Busted by Thai Authorities

Counter-trafficking network also used social media to find traffickers

Advertisement used on social media to lure young women.

Bangkok, July 24, 2015: Acting on information and analysis from Freeland, Thailand's Department of Special Investigations (DSI) today announced the arrest of three people for running a human trafficking network that used Facebook and other social media sites to recruit, dupe and intimidate victims across Southeast Asian borders for over two years.  

Kheng Hsiang Low, a.k.a. Steven Low, a Malaysian national, used social media sites to recruit women from Thailand, Vietnam and other countries to work at a disguised brothel in Malaysia. Mr. Low was the leader of a group that also traveled to Thailand to conduct business and recruit from Bangkok, Pattaya and a southern Thai city.  Facebook postings advertised the jobs for a club and restaurant, while in fact the women were put to work as sex workers upon arrival.

Distressed victims reached out for help through social networking lines to friends, who in turn contacted Freeland, a counter-trafficking group for help. Freeland in turn worked with the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) and Exodus Road, a partner counter trafficking group, to support information sharing between the victims and law enforcement authorities, including with the Thai Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, to first gain safety and care for the victims.  Exodus Road also sponsored care for the victims.

DSI conducted its own thorough investigation, collecting evidence against Mr. Low and other members of his network before issuing arrest warrants on July 19, 2015.

"DSI took our analysis, corroborated it, and added much more information to this case before taking professional action," said Sombat Tuengwiwat, Director of Intelligence Analysis of Freeland.  "DSI is to be congratulated for breaking up this human trafficking syndicate, including removing the boss and his senior team from harming more victims."

Furthermore, Freeland will represent the victims when the case is brought up to court.

Matt Parker, CEO of Exodus Road said, “This case is a good example of how social media is being used as a tool by traffickers to lure impressionable job-seekers into slavery. It has been encouraging to see the members of Liberty Alliance support law enforcement’s efforts, including ongoing support for victim care.”

Freeland and Exodus Road are part of counter-trafficking alliance called "Liberty Alliance", which also includes Liberty Asia.  Liberty Alliance provides information and other technical support to law enforcement agencies, while providing care for victims and education to support prevention, as well as legal assistance. The Liberty Alliance does not publicize its specific means of gathering information or providing victim care, but does advertise general help through hotlines and social media sites.